The Decision

I listen to The Breakfast Club every morning on iHeart Radio, and since it’s Monday, I thought it would be appropriate to title this post after the famous segment that sometimes feels real, but there’s no way that it is because the stuff is just so extreme, “The Decision”.

I chose this name because all weekend long people have been discussing in the different hair groups about what it means to be natural. I’ve shared my story on my decision, this time I’d like to take a look at the mentality behind a couple of the comments I’ve read and let you decide how you feel about what was said.

 

1. “It ain’t for everybody”

I’m a weirdo, so every time I hear that phrase, the above is what pops into my mind. This is a phrase that people have complained about/ celebrated in the hair community at large. Going natural is a personal choice to return to dealing with your hair as it grows from your head. That’s all. It’s not a calling to a higher purpose, it’s not a callback after an audition, it’s not the red or the blue pill. It’s a choice. It calls on your self-esteem, confidence, resolve, independence, and style preference for an answer… but it’s still just a choice.

There are two things that I don’t like regarding this comment.

A) The old head veterans like myself that take on that phrase is if returning to natural prior to 2003 put us on some conscious crusade in which we have survived the front lines, and anyone that comes along later has to get initiated into the sisterhood.

“Have you had your co-wash today?” *Insert Natural Hair pseudo-Greek step*

B) The select members of the relaxed  that use the term as a distancing phrase. As if they could not bare the thought of waking up one day just like God made them…as if it would diminish them to a level that only YOU the natural that clearly doesn’t care how the world sees them can exist comfortably.

There has to be a better way for us to convey that we are all beautiful any way that we decide to wear our hair. Any words akin to a “Girl, I don’t know how you do it” coming from either direction helps no one.

2. You say you’re natural, but what does that mean?

So we’ve got the Natural Hair Mafia that comes out to challenge anyone claiming their set.

“Well do you weave? Then you ain’t real.”

“How are you natural with that blonde in your hair?”

Your return to natural is your own journey. Nobody can define that for you. If you decide that your journey includes wearing a weave as a protective style so be it. If you decide that you just want your original curl pattern and not the color, that is also your business.

Don’t fall victim to the bullies that question your affiliation. Support is the key to this going from a fad to a movement to a lifestyle. The truth of the matter is: The curriculum availability is low, black people the world over are the only people who I have encountered that do not have a solid grasp on what it takes to style and care for our hair exactly the way that it grows from our head. In my opinion I believe it’s because we have the most versatile hair in that we can do either curly or strait, sculpted or free. It’s alarming but once you cross the line from relaxed to natural, lots of us rely on YouTube for answers.

You may have come here looking for some motivation to stay or return to natural. I hope that this brightened your day when you get hit with the situations above. Being/going natural is simply a decision. Knock the wind out of the big bad wolf and do what you feel is best for you. Women have survived for centuries as beautiful both with and without chemicals…. Ancient Egyptians were putting lead and copper on their EYES for crying out loud, we don’t need to try to get anyone on one side or the other, how about we just let one another live.

The Natural vs Nurture

Remember that post a while back about how we still need to do something to our hair and that being natural is not an excuse to just not do anything at all?

I’d like to modify my comments. While I strongly believe that one should refrain from being out in the world appearing that they have completely run out of “cares” to give; there’s a thin line between staying polished and being obsessive. I’ve had the privilege to be a part of quite a few fun and interesting natural hair groups and one thing that I notice is that many have not embraced the freedom.

 

As a former “Processed Princess” (something else I learned in one of the groups) I can remember a time that I could not leave the house without full accessories. I looked like an old school internet chat room avatar when I left the house. Even if I had on a hat, I had earrings and a flashy belt that made the look come together so I thought. I projected a load of insecurity which in turn attracted the wrong crowd of people and for a while I didn’t have a firm grasp on who I was without all of the junk on me.

 

How much of that comes from early childhood?

I am in no way bashing or putting down any of the women in my family, let’s be very clear. However, leaving the house for even the most simple trip was an ordeal everywhere I ever stayed. There were creams followed by lotions, combined with scents and topped with powders and lightly mist with sprays. Anything that wiggled was cinched and any hair out-of-place got a healthy slicking with some product and either an “edge brush” or a fine toothed comb. Scarves/Headwraps were reserved for African garments and most certainly not mixed with any American clothing. Keep in mind that the African garments were all special occasion wear and they too had to be cinched and pulled and tied into place.

There was never a time that I felt comfortable to just throw something on unless I was going out to get dirty (which upon meeting some people who knew me as a very small child, I was exceptionally good at avoiding for my age). In my early days of going natural I felt so unkempt that I was in the salon chair WEEKLY with a TWA(teeny weenie afro). I’d never witnessed anyone that left the house without everything slicked, taped, shined and greased get a warm reception from anyone that I knew.

 

Why would we want this for the next generation?

it’s easy to discuss celebrity kids because they are always on the news and in the public eye. The thing that has disturbed me for the past year is the level of conversation surrounding a particular toddler with extremely rich and powerful entertainers as parents (Yes, Blue Ivy). In the beginning I found myself instinctually on the side of “please do that baby’s hair” but as I’ve worked with so many of you and had an opportunity to observe others as well as think introspectively about this journey…. they are right on point. I have two Goddaughters with natural hair, I take the time to re-style the Barbie dolls so that they can have a toy designed to build female self-esteem that looks like them. Doesn’t it make sense to allow a child to become comfortable with exactly who they are without all of the things that we smooth, slather and sprinkle on them?

Think of the difference it would make in how some of these women that we see on television that degrade themselves just to become popular and in turn set horrible examples of being rewarded for being everything except who you were made to be. If we concentrated our efforts on not placing the same passed down insecurities that we’ve received from generations before us, what would the world look like in 15 short years? Would we start to see more Willow Smith and Blue Ivy imitators than our current situation of plastic, distorted body image, emotionally damaged women? Would Mona Scott have to find a new demographic to exploit because the ones that we would foster in this new generation cannot be bought because they know their worth and recognize their own face and hair?

 

I’m not saying that we should all just stop doing our hair and stage some Happy to be Nappy protest. This isn’t Occupy the Beauty Supply Store. I just want more for the young girls coming up now. They have a chance to be so much more powerful upon their formal introduction to adult-hood than my generation and the ones before. Powerful in a sense that they can learn to love and accept one another and not be as catty and judgmental as many of us have learned to be.

Learn to Love Your Natural Curls and Kinks….and One Another’s